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New house map: End of WNC's longest running electoral matchup & Buncombe could get even more blue

Districts to be used for NC House of Representatives elections in 2022
Districts to be used for NC House of Representatives elections in 2022

New district maps for General Assembly elections this year will end Western North Carolina’s longest-running electoral feud.

Republican Mike Clampitt currently represents District 119. He and Democrat Joe Sam Queen of Haywood County have flipped that seat back and forth between each other the past five elections. But this fall, it appears they won’t be facing each other for the first time since the 2010 election. Western Carolina University political scientist Dr. Chris Cooper explains how 119 was redrawn.

“Jackson County and Swain County will remain together. But instead of being paired with part of Haywood County, the 119 is now paired with Transylvania County,” said Cooper.

The 116th district in Buncombe County – currently represented by Democrat Brian Turner who announced he won’t seek reelection - will also look different. That's at least from the original map that had been drawn by leading Republicans in the General Assembly, which the state supreme court ruled an illegal partisan gerrymander.

“There was an earlier version that had it as a lean Republican district, but it is now lean Democrat," Cooper said. "It looks similar but not identical to what was used in the 2020 election.”

Of added importance, Buncombe County commissioner elections follow the district maps used for the county’s three state house seats, which Democrats all hold. Under the new map, the party might be able to take all seven spots on the board, as the seat of the lone Republican commissioner Robert Pressley is on the ballot this fall.

Matt Bush joined Blue Ridge Public Radio as news director in August 2016. Excited at the opportunity the build up the news service for both stations as well as help launch BPR News, Matt made the jump to Western North Carolina from Washington D.C. For the 8 years prior to coming to Asheville, he worked at the NPR member station in the nation's capital as a reporter and anchor. Matt primarily covered the state of Maryland, including 6 years of covering the statehouse in Annapolis. Prior to that, he worked at WMAL in Washington and Metro Networks in Pittsburgh, the city he was born and raised in.